Gerry Black’s Jewish CV

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My father was born in 1901 (he died in 1938) and my mother in 1903 (she died in 1993), and both were born in England of Russian parentage. When they married in 1926 they moved to Montreal in Canada. One of my mother's sisters was already there. I was born in Canada in 1928 but after a short, illegal, stay in New York, my parents returned to London in 1930 because my mother was homesick, and I have lived in London ever since. We went to live in Strahan Road in Bow, having a flat in the upper part of the house, at a rental of 28 shillings a week. There was an outside loo in the yard and we had no bathroom but went to Roman Road Baths once a week. My late sister was born in 1930 and my late brother in 1937.

Apart from our landlord who lived on the ground floor, we were the only Jewish people in the street. We never experienced any antisemitism, though I can remember one occasion when my father, who was athletic and fit, came home breathless after he escaped from a group of fascists who had been chasing him with intent to do him harm.

Most of my mother's family - she was one of nine - lived in Aldgate, Whitechapel and Mile End, and every Sunday she and her siblings and their children visited their mother who in 1936 was living in a flat in Mile End Road, above an amusement arcade run by her sons, which was directly oppo site, and had a good view down, Stepney Green.

During the afternoon of 4 October I was alone with my booba and was sitting by the window in the front room looking across into Stepney Green. I think I was probably aware that it was the day of Mosley's attempted march through the East End. Stepney Green began to fill with a crowd who were obviously there to thwart him and his supporters, but seemed to be awaiting an order to move off, either in the direction of Mile End Road or to Commercial Road, according with the route eventually taken by Mosley.

To my surprise I saw my uncle, my mother's brother-in-law, known as "Fat Harry" to distinguish him from her slimmer brother Harry, at the far end of the crowd nearest Commercial Road. I was surprised because he was the most non-confrontational person you could ever meet. He was a tailor, and you could not have an argument with him; he would simply shy away and not respond. To see him in the crowd shows just how great was the pull for a mixed body of opposition to Mosley. Suddenly, an order must have been given, and the crowd about-turned and marched purposefully towards Commercial Road. And there, now leading from the front, was Fat Harry, brandishing and whirling a stick

I attended a local nursery at the age of three and then a primary school nearby, and in 1936 spent a

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